Suffolk: Disappointment at funds proposed to take pylons out of most-valued landscapes

CAMPAIGNERS have hit out at what they call Ofgem’s “disturbing lack of ambition” in keeping pylons from the most-valued landscapes in Suffolk and beyond.

The regulator yesterday announced proposals to upgrade and renew Britain’s electricity and gas networks, including �17billion of investment with about a further �5bn potentially available. It is also proposing to make �470million available for the burying of new power lines.

But the The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has expressed disappointment Ofgem is only proposing to make up to �100m available for companies to mitigate the visual impact existing infrastructure may have in National Parks and Areas of Natural Beauty (AONB).

It comes after Suffolk County Council made its strongest criticism yet of National Grid’s plans for controversial pylons between Bramford and Twinstead. The energy firm announced proposals earlier this year to bury just 8km of the 30km route.

The CPRE said the �100m would only allow for between four to 10km of existing power lines in National Parks and AONBs to be undergrounded - less than 2% of the existing 420km of overhead power lines in these areas.

Tom Leveridge, senior energy campaigner for CPRE, said: “Although we welcome the increase in funds to allow undergrounding of up to 10% of new power lines, we are disappointed at the lack of ambition to get pylons out of our most-valued landscapes.

“Time and again the public say they don’t want to see pylons in National Parks and not enough is being done to make this happen.”

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The East Anglian Daily Times launched its Stop the Pylons campaign as soon as the plans for the Bramford to Twinstead line were unveiled.

Although National Grid recently announced plans to bury two 4km stretches of the route through the Dedham Vale and the Stour Valley, Suffolk County Council’s official response to the energy giant - which has been backed by cabinet members - says “each and every section of the line should be undergrounded”.

The response said the estimated capital cost for this scheme was now �207.7m and the capital cost of a wholly undergrounded scheme would be in the region of �615m.

It said: “National Grid has stated that for every �1bn they invest, domestic consumers are likely to see an increase of �1 on their bill per year.

“Applying this logic implies that the fully underground scheme would result in only a 40 pence increase per household bill.”

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